The methods of operation being employed by the Anaheim Ducks management seem to have their star players on an extremely short leash.
Despite being a team accustomed to regular playoff appearances over the last decade, the Ducks have played themselves out of the postseason two of the last three years. During that time, stretches of poor play have resulted almost inevitably in the shopping of one of Anaheim's three top scorers.
Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan have all at one time or another been mentioned in the "we're fielding offers" talk coming out of Southern California. Should Anaheim fall victim to another slow start, would it mean the reviving of these talks and rumors?
It's entirely possible.
A slow start could set into motion two different trends in Anaheim. The first, and perhaps more obvious, would be the automatic re-ignition of trade rumors—even in the midst of complete silence coming out of the Anaheim front office. Regardless of the validity of their claims, a slow start for Anaheim would at least mean we'd hear the familiar Ryan trade rumors that seem to have been so prevalent over the last two seasons.
Getzlaf and Perry's names could also be part of the talk. However, because they are both in the last year of their respective contracts. the conversation would more likely center around whether or not they would re-sign with the Ducks.
The second ripple effect a slow start would have—if the Ducks stay true to last year's form—would be an overall decline in offensive production of Anaheim's top three.
Will Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan all be on Anaheim's roster a year from now assuming there is no lockout?
Last year, the Ducks fell victim to an extremely slow start, and statistically, Ryan, Perry and Getzlaf were never able to catch up. Perhaps Getzlaf and Perry fell victim more than Ryan, who was able to eclipse the 30-goal mark for the fourth year in a row. However, Getzlaf and Perry saw steep declines in each of their production levels, going from 98 and 76 points in 2010-2011 to 60 and 57 points last year, respectively.
Bad seasons and losing trends have a way of taking the edge away from star players. Just look at Rick Nash last year with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
If the Ducks can't get things going early next season, Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan will have precious little time before all three are skating around with figurative question marks over their heads. The way Bob Murray handles next season will be a referendum on his management of the Ducks during their post-2006-2007 decline.
If Anaheim's core implodes next year, it'll be the icing on the cake of what has honestly been a horrendous several years for the Ducks in terms of management.
This year may be our last with Murray calling the shots.